Reflecting on the year so far
The Zurich Classic of New Orleans marks the halfway point of the regular season on the USPGA Tour and it’s been another one of those unpredictable years to date. With 17 tournaments down and 18 to go until the Fedex Cup playoffs begin, The Bogle Report offers thoughts on the year so far.
Player of the year: It’s been a hard one to pick so far with a handful of the usuals – Tiger, Phil, McIlroy, Donald and Stricker – all taking titles. But two players have really stood out so far in 2012. You’ve got Hunter Mahan who has multiple wins under his belt and Bubba Watson who was awesome in winning the first major of the year, The Masters. I probably have Bubba just ahead because of the major win plus three other top five results.
Breakout Player: I’ve got this narrowed down to two players. The first is Jason Dufner who after six years and 164 starts finally got over the line at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. The past year had been so frustrating for the 35-year-old with so many near misses including a meltdown on the back nine at the final major of the year, the PGA Championship, eventually giving Keegan Bradley the chance to take it in a playoff. Then this year he held halfway leads at both the Transitions Championship and the Masters before fizzling out again. The other player is Kyle Stanley. After triple bogeying the final hole and then losing in a playoff to Brandt Snedeker at the Farmers Insurance, Stanley got straight back up off the canvas and won the next week in Phoenix. That was gutsy!
Aussie of the year: Only one player has been really
close to a win and that is Robert Allenby who lost a marathon nine hole playoff to John Huh at the Mayakoba Classic. Allenby looked likely to end his 11 year winless drought on the PGA Tour when he headed to the final tee with a two shot lead. But somehow he managed to make a meal of the hole and a double bogey saw him in a playoff with American rookie Huh. Eight holes later the 21 year old had his first victory on Tour.
Rookie of the year: There are 26 rookies on tour this year but really only three of them have been making any noise. Bud Cauley has posted a
couple of top-10s including a tidy fourth place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Asian superstar Sang Moon Bae was unlucky to lose at the Transitions Championship after he and Jim Furyk went down in extra time to world number one Luke Donald. But for mine, John Huh has the edge on both of those players due to his marathon win over Allenby at the Mayakoba Classic.
Comeback Player: As far as comeback players, we’re used to seeing grizzled old veterans like Steve Stricker or a Rocco Mediate take this award but in 2012 so far it’s a toss-up between Ben Curtis and Tiger Woods. Curtis had gone almost six years without a win before taking out the Texas Open while a lot of people had written off Tiger, saying he wasn’t the same player and at 35 years of age looked to be a spent force. His win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational was something special. Because I think he had more pressure on him to get back in the winner’s circle, I have him just ahead of Curtis for this one.
Best Tournament to date: They have all had some sort of twist but without a doubt the tournament that captivated me the most was the AT&T National Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The final day was a beauty with Tiger and Phil being paired together in the second last group. I don’t think anybody expected
the outcome with Phil shooting 64 to win his third AT&T while Tiger shot 75 to fizzle out.
The Biggest Disappointment: I guess after the seasons they had in 2011, Adam Scott and Jason Day both have been disappointing so far in the first half of this year. Adam Scott has had just one top 10 and that came at the Masters where he fired a final round 66 to share eighth while Jason Day hasn’t finished inside the top 19 in any tournament yet and also had to withdraw from the Masters with an ankle injury.